The year that Hylton junior quarterback Darius Reynolds and his teammates spent working on another Virginia AAA Northwestern Region Division 6 championship boiled down to the minute or so the Bulldogs spent in a timeout yesterday, improvising a play that ran their region title streak to eight.
Reynolds hooked up with senior receiver Marshall Dill on an 18-yard touchdown pass with 35 seconds left to lift No. 2 Hylton to a 35-27 victory over turnaround program Osbourn on what Reynolds called "a play we just made up in the huddle."
Dill faked running a post pattern and broke toward the corner of the end zone, where he went up over a defender to make the winning grab. The players suggested the call to Coach Lou Sorrentino, who gave it the green light.
"We were going to run a post, but I felt that [the defender] was a little susceptible to a double move," Dill said. "As soon as he bit on that post, I knew I had him."
"I thought I had the ball," said Osbourn senior defensive back Junior Sesay, who earlier in the game had recovered a fumble, caught a touchdown pass and returned a blocked punt for a score. "I was in good position and everything. He just went up and got it before I could."
Reynolds's two touchdown passes in the first half went to junior Fred Massa, who each time caught the ball over leaping Osbourn defenders.
Massa had just three catches going into the game. Senior Courtney Anderson ran for the other two touchdowns for Hylton (12-0).
Osbourn (10-2), a team with a 21-69 record as an AAA program entering the season, threw a scare into the defending region champions, beginning with the touchdown the Eagles scored midway through the first quarter for their only lead.
There would be ties at 6, 13, 20 and 27.
Junior quarterback Brandon Hogan, held to 42 rushing yards on 13 carries, threw for 178 yards and two touchdowns and ran for a third score, and Sesay's three-yard return of a blocked punt helped pull the Eagles even on the last play of the third quarter.
A wide-open Osbourn receiver dropped a pass around midfield on third and long with 1:55 left that could have preserved a potentially game-winning drive. On the next play, the Eagles dropped a punt snap that gave Hylton possession at the Osbourn 40. Reynolds completed a pass on fourth and four, and on the next play found Dill in the end zone.
Hylton, now 10-0 in the series with Osbourn, dominated the time of possession in the first half (21:11 to 2:49) but led just 20-13 entering the third period.
The Bulldogs have now beaten seven schools in winning the past eight region titles, and yesterday they met what Sorrentino refers to as "the Hylton challenge," living up to the program's rich history.
"We're always thinking about it," Reynolds said. "You have to come out like every other Hylton team and be great. You just can't be good."